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Op-Ed

Cal Thomas: Take a Look at Some of the Worst Pork in the So-Called 'COVID Relief Bill'

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President Joe Biden has challenged those who oppose the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion bill disingenuously dubbed “COVID relief” or the more deceitful “American Rescue Plan.”

“What would they have me cut?” he asks. Challenge accepted.

Even The Washington Post editorial board thinks the spending is too much and misdirected: “[C]oncerns about the bill’s cost are growing — across the political spectrum.”

With COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths decreasing, with vaccines promised to be widely available to the general public by July and with possible herd immunity coming soon, the best stimulus to the economy would be to open up businesses, allowing people to return to work while practicing health and safety measures.

Many who received money from the government the last stimulus go-round banked the checks and spent little or none of it. The Post editorial also notes that money targeted to state and local governments (virtually all run by Democrats) don’t need it.

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It references Moody’s Analytics examination of state finances, which “shows that 31 states have enough money ‘to fully absorb the economic stress of COVID-19’ without substantial budget cuts or tax increases.”

That’s just for starters. Pork doesn’t even begin to describe the unrelated COVID-19 spending.

As The Wall Street Journal has noted, most of the House bill has less to do with the virus and more to do with paying lobbyists and other groups favorable to Democrats.

There’s another $7.2 billion for paycheck protection, which again would be less expensive and possibly unnecessary if businesses were allowed to reopen. When this money runs out and businesses are still mostly closed, will there be more spending, adding to the already unsustainable debt?

Do you think the Senate should pass this COVID relief bill?

There’s $86 billion to rescue 185 pension plans, which, as The Journal notes, have been “chronically underfunded due to lax federal standards and accounting rules. Yet the bailout comes with no real reform.”

That’s the thing about so many government programs. They never have to fix a problem, only demonstrate good intentions so politicians can save their careers.

Public elementary and secondary schools, most of which remain closed thanks to teachers unions that wish to extract even more money for themselves, without returning to classrooms, are targeted to receive $129 billion.

Schools don’t have to reopen to get the money, despite the science, which Biden promised to rely on, that says young children are least likely to become infected. The Congressional Budget Office has said that Congress previously authorized $113 billion for schools but that most of that money has not been spent.

There’s plenty more, including massive amounts of cash for programs favored by Democrats. In addition to Planned Parenthood, notes The Journal, included are billions to defray premiums for the Affordable Care Act, $39 billion for child care, $30 billion for public transit agencies, the $15/hour minimum wage, which may lead to more layoffs and fewer hires, $1.5 billion for AMTRAK, a bridge to Canada (not to be confused with Alaska’s notorious “bridge to nowhere” some years ago), and as the CBO notes, “$480 million for grants to fund activities related to the arts, humanities, libraries and museums, and Native American language preservation.”

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If not properly cooked, pork can be infected with trichinosis, a disease caused by a small parasitic worm. That seems a good analogy when it comes to the “parasitic” congressional worms infecting our economy with nonstop spending of money we don’t have and borrowing that can’t continue without causing serious economic harm.

Nations of the past have not been able to survive massive debt. What makes us think we can?

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Cal Thomas is one of the most widely syndicated political columnists in America. He is the author most recently of "America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers ... and the Future of the United States" (Zondervan, 2020).




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